(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/30/08) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked a federal judge in California to throw out what it termed a “baseless” lawsuit by syndicated radio talk show host Michael Savage.
Late last year, Savage sued CAIR for copyright infringement after the Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization posted brief audio clips from his October 29, 2007, program on its website.
In those clips, Savage, whose “The Savage Nation” program airs on more than 300 radio stations nationwide, screamed attacks on Muslims, Islam and the Quran. CAIR called on radio listeners of all faiths to contact companies that advertise on Savage’s program to express their concerns about the host’s anti-Muslim bigotry.
A community and interfaith coalition, called Hate Hurts America, was also formed in response to Savage’s rhetorical attacks on Muslims and Islam.
SEE: Hate Hurts America
CAIR filed an answer to Savage’s suit as well as a motion for judgment on the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A hearing is set for March 7, 2008 in that court.
In its motion, CAIR stated, in part:
“Viewed in its entirety, Savage’s Complaint is simply a camouflaged defamation or disparagement claim dressed as bogus copyright and RICO claims. . .Savage’s legal broadside specifically targets CAIR as a civil rights organization and its core political speech responding to and criticizing Savage’s inflammatory political rhetoric. As the nation’s largest civil rights organization for Muslims, CAIR appropriately characterized Savage’s own words as an ‘Anti-Muslim Tirade’ and publicly communicated a detailed response as part of its advocacy work.”
SEE: CAIR’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
“Michael Savage’s frivolous and baseless lawsuit is a direct attack on First Amendment freedoms and on any citizen’s right to comment on public issues,” said CAIR legal counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili. “His suit is an abuse of the judicial system and a transparent attempt to punish those who challenge his hate-filled rhetoric.”
She added that CAIR’s public criticism of Savage’s remarks is clearly protected by both the First Amendment and copyright law.
CAIR is represented in this case by the law firms Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.